She picked a table at the far corner of the café. From there she had a full view of the entrance while hiding herself away under the dim light. She sat slightly hunched over the small square wooden table, one hand trapped between her knees, the other restlessly tapping the table with her bare fingers. They hurt a little from nail biting, and the pain actually helped her to ease some panic and anxiety.
The waiter approached with a warm smile. “What would you like today, Mia? Long black or chai?”
“Long black. Thanks, Joe. Uhm… maybe not now. I am still waiting for someone, a bit rude to order first, I suppose?”
“No worries, I’ll come back when you are ready.” He winked, giving his usual million-dollar grin. However, for once she didn’t watch him as he moved off.
“Aiyaya, sorry, sir. I didn’t see you there. My apologies.”
She followed Joe’s voice and saw him. Pins and needles were piling up on the top of her skull. Blood was rushing to her brain. She had to hold on to the edge of the table with both hands to steady herself.
“Mia, sorry I am a bit late, was stuck in a meeting and I left my phone somewhere.” He reached for a kiss but then realised she was still sitting down. He sat opposite her. His hand slid towards hers but she didn’t stop gripping the corner of the table. She looked up and their eyes met. His were aqua blue when he was happy, slate when he was in deep thought. Now they were almost hazel under the warm café lighting.
He smiled, showing his front teeth; there was a gap between the middle two. She used to think it lightened up his serious demeanour. “Mia, are you there?” he teased.
“Hey, you! I’m…I am glad you agreed to meet. And you haven’t changed a bit.” She relaxed a little into her chair having finally greeted him. Her fingers tried to tug her lose curls behind her ears.
“Would you like a Mocha? They make it just right here. You will be surprised.”
“As long as you are having a long black to keep me company.”
“Sure. I will call Joe over.” She was about to get up.
He grabbed both her hands and held them up to his nose. He smelled the ginger and cinnamon on her bare fingers and started to laugh uncontrollably. He used to call her badly bitten nails the circumcised fingers. When she flavoured the meat in curry cooking, she would swear her head off because the stinging sensation on her broken skin was unbearable. And yet being Mia, she would not wear gloves.
She knew exactly what he was laughing about but couldn’t pull away from his firm grip. She bellowed a laugh instead.